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How to Celebrate Diversity with Infants and Toddlers | Upbring

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This fall your family may be navigating changes in childcare, school attendance or homeschool connections, but even in these radically different times children are still growing and learningMany of our blog posts this season will focus on learning, so you have additional resources to support the children in your life as they learn more about the world each day, growing up as they go.  

Did you know that children can begin noticing differences in skin color and hair texture as young as three months old? 

As the Director of Admissions and Family Engagement at two Upbring preschools, I know that early childhood sets up a foundation for lifelong learning and values. Exploring diverse children’s books, toys and activities together as a family means that children can begin to celebrate similarities and differences in groups of people, giving them the opportunity to grow in awareness, sensitivity, and empathy, while nurturing their natural curiosity.  

The delightful resources listed below are just a few of our favorites for infants, toddlers, and young children. Books can be found at your local library, bookstore or online, and many have an audiobook counterpart.  

Infant/Toddler 

Toys 

Basket of Babies – A soft basket of diverse babies for young children to snuggle, dress up and take care of. 

Playdate Friends Harper – A darling Black baby doll that’s machine washable and dryer safe.  

Maya the Mermaid  A handcrafted, fair trade doll that provides 10 meals to children in need for every doll purchased. 

Books 

“Everywhere Babies”  

By Susan Meyers  

A diverse baby board book with a rhyming text that celebrates all the wonderful things babies do. 

“Splash!”  

By Roberta Grobel Intrater  

Babies love seeing other babies, and Roberta Grobel Intrater’s candid photos of multicultural babies and toddlers playing in water makes this an excellent board book choice. 

“Baby Says”  

By John Steptoe 

A picture book about a classic sibling story from the award-winning author and illustrator John Steptoe. 

“You Are My Perfect Baby”  

By Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Nneka Bennett 

A warm welcome for newborns that pairs poetry celebrating all that’s precious with a new baby alongside gentle illustrations. 

“Baby Loves Sight” and “Baby Loves Hearing” 

By Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan 

The Baby Loves Science board book series shares science with toddlers in a friendly, age-appropriate way. The Sight and Hearing books have blind toddlers, glasses-wearing toddlers, and toddlers who need hearing implants. 

Preschool 

Toys 

Children of the World Floor Puzzle  In this large, 36-piece puzzlechildren can take a jigsaw tour of 18 different countries and see the different ways kids look and dress.  

Wonder Crew Superhero Buddy – Designed to offer both the adventure of an action figure and the emotional connection of a stuffed animal. 

Friends & Neighbors – The Helping Game – The creators of this game aimed to build empathy and compassion: The cooperative game gives players tokens for helping out the different characters on the board. It teaches kids to recognize and name different emotions and give others a boost if they can.  

Friends with Diverse Abilities – Six well-built toys depict people with differing abilities.  

Harper Iman– Harper Iman offers an array of Black dolls. 

Activities 

Create diverse paper dolls that reflect the books you’re reading. 

Provide multicultural crayons allow your child to illustrate diversity.  

Share diverse music such as folk songs, instrumentals and music in different languages. Introduce your child to different cultures through instruments like maracas, bongos, wooden flutes, the marimba, gourds, tambourines, or rain sticks. 

Show your children maps and globes and talk about different places. 

Teach simple greetings in other languages 

Make snacks together from other cultures. 

Books 

“Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes” 

By Roseanne Thong 

Children discover shapes all around them. Many of the objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. This story has lively illustrations, a rhyming text, and an informative glossary. 

“Follow the Drinking Gourd”  

By Jeanette Winter 

This story features a family making their escape from plantation owners to the north using the directions of a song. 

Follow the Drinking Gourd song on YouTube. 

“Last Stop on Market Street” 

By Matt de la Pena 

An energetic ride through a bustling city with a grandparent and grandchild that faces questions of material poverty, featuring a vibrant text and illustrations. 

“Margaret and Margarita/Margarita y Margaret” 

By Lynn Reiser 

A bilingual children’s book in English and Spanish about two girls with a language barrier who still find a way to play together. 

“Saturday” 

By Oge Mora 

Radiant artwork accompanies this warm story about a black mother and daughter dealing with changes to their fun Saturday plans. 

“Maya’s Magical Laundry Basket” 

By Carolyn Florey and John Garrity 

Maya, a young Asian American girl, just wants to play outside, but as her father does the laundry, she begins imagining a series of adventures, all from her laundry basket. 

Tips for starting the conversation and answering questions: 

Children are naturally curious about differences. Many children may have questions or unarticulated inferences about race from a young age, making it an important topic to explore. Do your best to be honest and introduce diversity from a young age to foster inclusivity. 

Resources for discussing diversity with children 

I hope this post was a service to youIf so, share it with family and friends, and if you’re looking for childcare options in the Austin and Houston area, consider Upbring School of Arts and Sciences or Upbring Schools of Discovery and Leadership. Check back next week for the next post in our fall learning series! Together we can create a kinder future.  

About the Author 

Brenna

Brenna Nunes Director of Admissions and Family Engagement 

Deaconess Brenna Nunes has served people in the Chicago area since 1998. She added creativity to church and school programs, wrote curriculum and launched initiatives that brought children and their families closer to Christ, and His people. Brenna studied Psychology and Child Studies at Brock University in Canada. She earned her Deaconess certification and a Master’s Degree in Religion from Concordia University Chicago. Before coming to Texas in 2017, Brenna served on the Board of Directors for Bethesda Lutheran Communities, was a Bible Study leader at the 2013 LCMS National Youth Gathering and has opened her home and heart to children as a foster parent since 2004. Brenna lives in Pflugerville, Texas with her daughter Naomi (b. 2005); and Leo (b.2003) who is a foreign exchange student from Qingdao, China. 

About Upbring Preschools  

Upbring Education Association is a community of early-childhood, faith-based schools in Central Austin and Downtown Houston. Learn more about Upbring School of Arts and Sciences and Upbring School of Discovery and Leadership by exploring their webinars or signing up for a virtual Q&A session. Both schools have open admissions for children ages six weeks to five years old.  

“Upbring schools are unique in that they have never closed, not for a single day during the pandemic,” said Brenda. “It’s a privilege to be entrusted with teaching the next generation. We hope to be able to continue to do so for a long time to come.” By providing a sense of normalcy and offering financial assistance to alleviate any burdens on the families at this time, Upbring is determined to fully demonstrate our steadfast commitment to breaking the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. 

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